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Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
May 29, 2008

Katimavik Program 30th Anniversary

Mr. Speaker, it's my sincere pleasure to have a chance to share a very happy story from my constituency. All of us, I'm sure, are familiar with the Katimavik program which operates across Canada and, across Canada this past weekend, Katimavik celebrated its 30th anniversary here in Winnipeg.

Six different groups of young people from across Canada gathered in the Spence neighbourhood and spent the entire day working on some very exciting green projects, everything ranging from community clean-ups to building new composting bins, to helping local residents and volunteers weed their community gardens.

I'm very pleased to also report to the House that the abandoned lots which once plagued all of the inner city, including the Spence neighbourhood, are now becoming a thing of the past. In the Spence Neighbourhood Association - very, very difficult to find any space which isn't either a garden or a new home which has been constructed, often in conjunction with support from our government - the Katimavik volunteers in their bright wonderful T-shirts and fantastic energy were a wonderful sight to see.

These young people, of course, come from across Canada and they live in groups of 11 people. They're sponsored in three different communities across Canada, two of them English and one of them francophone. They learn both official languages, if they don't know them already, and they work full-time as volunteers involved in many different community projects, such as what we saw in the Spence neighbourhood.

In 2006 and 2007 alone, there were over 1,000 participants in Katimavik, and they contributed over 744,000 hours to 100 different communities across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, one of the wonderful things about the neighbourhood gathering this past weekend in Spence was that many of the alumni from Katimavik, over the past 30 years, were also present to share their stories from those days.

On a personal note, I would add that, at one point in time in my life, I had hoped very much to be a Katimavik participant, but there was a gap of several years in this fine program's history, because the former Conservative government cancelled it, presumably with the belief that young Canadians should not have an opportunity to rediscover their country and to learn different languages.

So, congratulations to Katimavik and all who are involved.

www.katimavik.org